27 June 2022 The Future is the Product of the Past

Bristol Redcliff Quarter’s outstanding medieval knife

In 2017 and 2018, Cotswold Archeology and Oxford Archeology, in a joint venture, undertook excavations ahead of redevelopment at Redcliff Quarter in Bristol.

This joint venture attracted attention with the discovery of highly valuable and well-preserved artifacts. One of the artifacts found was this small iron whittle-tang knife.

This artifact was found amongst the tenement occupation debris and is a small iron whittle-tang knife, complete with a decorative bone handle. Stylistically it is of late 12th to early 13th-century date.

The anthropomorphic terminal of the handle is in the form of a king’s head – the eyes are large and bulbous below a prominent monobrow that extends into a straight nose; the mouth has curved lips between two incised lines, with the hint of a beard below; two bands of diagonal lines in opposing directions represent what could be a swept-back hairstyle. His crown has been represented by a series of crenelations above a horizontal band surmounting the forehead. 

Bristol, Redcliff Quarter's outstanding medieval knife
Bristol, Redcliff Quarter’s outstanding medieval knife. Photo: Cotswold Archaeology

This is a really unusual find – few handles with comparable ‘king’ terminals are known, the closest example being from Westbury, a deserted medieval village in Milton Keynes. However, the use of king’s head imagery is not unknown in other groups of artifacts – it’s reminiscent of the chessmen from Lewis, Scotland, of mid to late 12th-century date; and it’s seen later, from c. 1200 – 1450, on copper alloy clasps and belt mounts.

Medieval bone knife handles were occasionally carved into figural or architectural forms, although the designs were frequently plain, reflecting the constraints of the raw material employed as well as the craftsman’s talents. The designs grew into completely three-dimensional portrayals of knights and even courtly ladies carrying falcons in the 13th and 14th centuries!

The handles of the more elaborate design are believed to belong to the upper classes. Excavations demonstrated that, from the 12th century onwards, Redcliffe was a thriving commercial suburb.

The king’s head knife most likely belonged to a wealthy individual living nearby; an individual with perhaps a rather satirical outlook on the social structure of the day, because when the knife is held for use, the King’s face would be looking towards the ground, perhaps an intended insult to amuse the holder without retribution!

Cotswold Archaeology

Banner
Related Post

A birthplace of complex musical instruments “Iran”

9 January 2022

9 January 2022

Music is a form of art, which derives from the Greek word meaning “art of the Muses.” While it is...

Bidnija olive trees have seen medieval, not the Roman period

13 July 2021

13 July 2021

The olive trees in the Bidnija grove on the island of Malta are believed to be 2000 years old. But...

Egypt’s Lost city “Thonis-Heracleion”

6 September 2021

6 September 2021

Thonis-Heracleion (Egyptian and Greek names of the city) is a port city lost between myth and reality until 1999. Few...

Jade Burial Suits of the Han Dynasty

12 September 2021

12 September 2021

Threaded hand-crafted from thousands of precious stone slabs with silver and gold during the Han Dynasty about 2000 years ago,...

Brief history and 9 unknowns of Hagia Sophia

11 August 2021

11 August 2021

The Great Church was the name given to Hagia Sophia when it was initially constructed (Megale Ekklesia). However, the Church...

Spain’s little-known Viking history is being uncovered

9 August 2021

9 August 2021

Spain has been subjected to more invasions and conquests than any other European country. And, while the Roman, Visigothic, and...

“If this site (Sharda temple)is restored and conserved, it will attract thousands of Hindus and Buddhists from Kashmir and the rest of the world”

7 August 2021

7 August 2021

Sharda Peeth, a historic learning institution located 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Muzaffarabad, the capital and largest city of Pakistan-administered...

A Pagan cemetery belongs to the Late Roman Empire period in Istanbul

12 June 2022

12 June 2022

During the restoration of the ancient Sheikh Suleiman Mosque, which was restored as part of the Med-Art Education Project by...

The mystery of Cathedral of Salamanca’s astronaut figure, isn’t what people think it is

10 March 2022

10 March 2022

There is a photograph of an “astronaut” carved in a 16th century Spanish cathedral in Salamanca. Known as the Catedral...

Clarifying The Complexities Of Communication Across Millennia In Mesoamerica

20 February 2022

20 February 2022

The long-held consensus that the more populated and “civilized” a society, the more complex their communication may be more nuanced...

Iran’s legendary ruined city “Susa”

12 August 2021

12 August 2021

Ancient Susa is one of the oldest cities in the world. The Elamite, Persian, and Parthian empires formerly ruled over...

500-year-old Inca mummy, as if in a deep sleep “La Doncella”

24 August 2021

24 August 2021

Three Inca mummies found near the high Volcán Llullaillaco peak in Argentina in 1999 stunned all scientists. The 3 Incas...

Life continues in Iran’s 12,000-year-old settlement “Meymand village”

8 February 2022

8 February 2022

At the south-eastern Iranian province of Kerman near Shahr-Babak city, there is a village dating back to the Stone Age....

Martyr Skeletons Dressed in Jewels “Catacomb Saints”

16 September 2021

16 September 2021

The story of the saints in the catacombs of Northern Europe is a peculiar story. It is rooted in the...

Famous Celtic hero bust of the Czech Republic “The head of Mšecké Žehrovice”

5 May 2022

5 May 2022

Located in the Czech Republic, the Mšecké Žehrovice’s head makes an appealing piece with its delightful curling mustaches- “perhaps the...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.